“. . . let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” Ephesians 5:33
When you said “I do,” it was likely the fairy tale you dreamed of. However, if you’ve been married for any amount of time, you’ve learned that life happens and things get difficult. From job changes, to parenting issues, to money problems, conflict, and even betrayal, you may have found yourself asking, “How did we end up here?”
God designed marriage to be a treasured gift that produces life and enrichment. It’s intended to be a living display of Christ’s love for His church. Many times, it gives us the opportunity to give and receive grace. If we don’t strive to make our marriages great, even the smallest grievances can cripple our relationships. Our churches, communities, and families need strong marriages that are imitating the love of Christ.
Here are 4 ways I’ve found to help strengthen your marriage:
- Love like Christ. Philippians 2:1–11 gives us the standard for love through the example of Christ. Jesus gave all of himself, in love for us. When we understand the love given to us in spite of our sinfulness and selfishness, it opens our hearts and eyes to love like Christ loved us—selflessly, unconditionally, and intentionally. We’re reminded in verse three of this passage, “. . . in humility, consider others more important than yourselves.” Later in these verses, we’re encouraged to have the mindset of Christ in our relationships. Question to consider: What do you need to do to consider your spouse better than yourself?
- Speak your spouse’s love language. Perhaps the most practical, and yet monumental, aspect of our marriage was discovering our love languages. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages helps frame how we give and receive love. We all give and receive love through the five languages but most have two primary love languages that make them feel the most loved. Do you know what your spouse’s is? Do you know yours? We tend to express love in the manner we best receive it. When we neglect to speak our spouse’s language and only speak our own, we are only loving ourselves. Action to take: Discover your love language here at 5lovelanguages.com.
- Find a bigger purpose you can pursue together. For us, this started through sponsoring a child when we were newlyweds. That sponsorship led to advocacy for children, funding initiatives to rescue children in slavery, supporting an orphanage in Uganda, and ultimately serving children full time in my role at Compassion International. These efforts have united us and provided discipleship opportunities for our children. As we move to make the world a better place for those who are marginalized, it keeps us in sync as we journey through life. Question to consider: What is something you can do together that advances the Kingdom of God?
- Find an activity you can enjoy together. We love to travel. We make it a point to have one trip a year as a family and, if possible, one trip as a couple. We recently celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary with a special trip, saving for over three years to make it happen. The trip was amazing and something we will remember for a lifetime. But the time leading up to the trip—budgeting, deal hunting, activity planning—was time well spent together. We were investing in us as much as we were investing in the trip. Action to take: Consider taking dance lessons, playing tennis, or taking a cruise!
If you have Christ, you have what you need for a great marriage, for your real fairy tale—your happily ever after. Imagine the world we will create and leave for our children if we commit to making our marriages great.
– Josh Farmer
Senior Sales Director
Bay Area Christian Family
Church Relations Manager at Compassion International